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From the Motor Sport Archive
A moment's rashness prevented Nigel Mansell from extending his sizeable World Championship lead in Canada. As an electronic malfunction sidelined Ayrton Senna, Gerhard Berger picked up the pieces for McLaren
It was easy enough for Nigel Mansell to rationalise Ayrton Senna taking his 61st pole position in Canada. After all, his own efforts had been thwarted by a fault with a sticking suspension component during free practice on Friday morning, and then a combination of traffic, lack of grip and a Renault RS4 engine that the telemetry said was a good 40 bhp down on what it should have been. To boost himself, Mansell could also look to his own speed on Saturday morning, when he lapped faster than anyone else would all weekend. The trouble was that the changeable weather conditions that day meant that the track was marginally slower than it had been during Friday's sun, and the result was that Williams Red Five — Cinq Rouge – did not feature on the front row for the first time this season.
It was worrying that, for Mansell, even if team-mate Riccardo Patrese was alongside the World Champion's improving McLaren MP4/7A. The dilemma was simple: the McLarens had better straightline speeds than the Williams-Renaults, just as they had had in Monaco, and much of that came from superior acceleration. If Senna won the start, passing on the tight Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Montreal's Ile Notre Dame was going to be very difficult, particularly when tyre conservation was so important.
When the lights finally went green after an inordinately long delay Senna spurted ahead, neither of the Williamses being able to do anything about it despite their traction control. Patrese saw Mansell coming through as if tomorrow was on hold and wisely let him keep coming, reasoning that the inevitable attack might later profit him. Despite that, however, Mansell never got close enough to challenge the Brazilian for the lead, and that was to be his downfall. He would scrape ahead, briefly, but when he did so it would be en route for the spin that cost him at least six World Championship points, possibly 10.